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BOOK I

Toil

The Man With_the_Hoe*

BY EDWIN MARKHAM

(This poem, which was written after seeing Millet's world-famous painting, was published in 1899 by a California school-principal, and made a profound impression. It has been hailed as "the battle-cry of the next thousand years")

OWED by the weight of centuries he leans
Upon his hoe and gazes on the ground,

The emptiness of ages in his face,

And on his back the burden of the world.
Who made him dead to rapture and despair,
A thing that grieves not and that never hopes,
Stolid and stunned, a brother to the ox?
Who loosened and let down this brutal jaw?
Whose was the hand that slanted back this brow?
Whose breath blew out the light within this brain?

Is this the thing the Lord God made and gave

To have dominion over sea and land;

To trace the stars and search the heavens for power;
To feel the passion of Eternity?

Is this the dream He dreamed who shaped the suns

And marked their ways upon the ancient deep?

Down all the stretch of Hell to its last gulf

There is no shape more terrible than this

More tongued with censure of the world's blind greedMore filled with signs and portents for the soulMore fraught with menace to the universe.

By permission of Doubleday, Page & Co.

What gulfs between him and the seraphim!
Slave of the wheel of labor, what to him
Are Plato and the swing of Pleiades?
What the long reaches of the peaks of song,
The rift of dawn, the reddening of the rose?
Through this dread shape the suffering ages look;
Time's tragedy is in that aching stoop;
Through this dread shape humanity betrayed,
Plundered, profaned and disinherited,

Cries protest to the Judges of the World,
A protest that is also prophecy.

O masters, lords and rulers in all lands,

Is this the handiwork you give to God,

This monstrous thing distorted and soul-quenched?
How will you ever straighten up this shape;
Touch it again with immortality;

Give back the upward looking and the light;
Rebuild in it the music and the dream;
Make right the immemorial infamies,
Perfidious wrongs, immedicable woes?

O masters, lords and rulers in all lands,
How will the Future reckon with this Man?
How answer his brute question in that hour
When whirlwinds of rebellion shake the world?
How will it be with kingdoms and with kings-
With those who shaped him to the thing he is—
When this dumb Terror shall reply to God,

After the silence of the centuries?

Country Life

(From "The Village")

BY GEORGE CRABBE

(One of the earliest of English realistic poets, 1754-1832; called "The Poet of the Poor")

R will you deem them amply paid in health,

OR

Labor's fair child, that languishes with wealth? Go then! and see them rising with the sun, Through a long course of daily toil to run; See them beneath the dog-star's raging heat, When the knees tremble and the temples beat; Behold them, leaning on their scythes, look o'er The labor past, and toils to come explore; See them alternate suns and showers engage, And hoard up aches and anguish for their age; Through fens and marshy moors their steps pursue, Where their warm pores imbibe the evening dew; Then own that labor may as fatal be

To these thy slaves, as thine excess to thee.

An Aged Laborer

BY RICHARD JEFFERIES

(English essayist and nature student, 1848-1887)

OR weeks and weeks the stark black oaks stood

FOR

straight out of the snow as masts of ships with furled sails frozen and ice-bound in the haven of the deep valley. Never was such a long winter.

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